This is a slang word in the idiom of Australian English and British English , usually employed as an ethnic or racial slur , and considered derogatory and offensive.

In British English, “wog” is an offensive racial slur usually applied to Black, Middle Eastern , South Asian or Southeast Asian peoples. In Australian English, “wog” is a term used for the general population of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region in general, including the Mediterranean region of the Middle East (ie, the Eastern Mediterranean or the Levant and North Africa ).


The origin of the term is unclear. It was first noted by lexicographer Bowen FC in 1929, in his Sea Slang: a dictionary of the old-timers’ expressions and epithets , where he defines wogs as “lower class Babu shipping clerks on the Indian coast.” [1] Many dictionaries which? ] say “wog” derives from the golliwogg , a blackface minstrel doll character from a children’s book, The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg by Florence Kate Upton , published in 1895; gold from pollywog , a dialect term for tadpolethat is used in maritime circles to indicate someone who has not crossed the equator . [2]

Suggestions that the word is an acronym for “wily Oriental gentleman”, “working on government service”, or similar, are examples of false etymology . [3] [4]

Use in British English

“Wog”, in the UK, is a derogatory and racially offensive slang word referring to a non-white, Jewish, or dark-skinned white person, including people from the Middle East , the Indian subcontinent , other parts of Asia such as East Indies , or the Mediterranean area, including Southern Europeans.

The saying, “The wogs begin at Calais “, appears to date from the First World War but was popularized by George Wigg , Labor MP for Dudley , in 1949 when in a parliamentary debate the Burmese , Wigg shouted at the Conservative benches, “The Honorable Gentleman and his friends think they are all ‘wogs’. Indeed, the Right Honorable Member for Woodford [ie, Winston Churchill ] thinks that the ‘wogs’ begin at Calais. ” [5]

As reported by English-Jewish journalist Linda Grant , people in England have referred to Jews and Israelis as “wogs”, as well. [6]

In Season 1 Episode 6 – ‘The Germans’ episode of Fawlty Towers (a funny 1975 British TV show), Major Gowen is dedicated to “wogging” India (when speaking about the India vs England cricket game at the Oval to Basil Fawlty).

Use in Australian English

In Australia, the term “wog” refers to Southern European residents , Mediterranean , Middle Eastern , and sometimes Eastern European ethnicity or appearance. The slur is widely diffused with an increase in immigration from Europeand the Levant , mainly Albania , Croatia , Bosnia , Greece , Italy , Lebanon , Macedonia , Malta , Serbia , Spain and Turkey after the Second World War. These new arrivals were perceived by the majority population as being predominantly Anglo Protestant / Anglo-Australian / Anglo-Celtic Australian culture. The term expanded to include not only Southern European peoples, but immigrants from the Mediterranean region of the Middle East as well.

Today, “wog” is used extensively in Australia with substantial Southern European , Mediterranean , and Middle Eastern populations, mainly Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. As with other slang and prima facie profanity used in contemporary Australian English , [7] the term “wog” may be used either aggressively or affectionately within differing contexts.

In Australian English, “wog” can also be used as a slang word for an illness such as a common cold or influenza , as in: “I’m coming down with a wog”. Such use is not perceived as derogatory. [8]

In the media

More recently, Southern European-Australian performing artists have taken ownership of the term “wog”, defusing its original pejorative nature. The popular 1980s stage show Wogs Out of Work , created by Nick Giannopoulos and Simon Palomares , is an early example. The production was followed by Acropolis Now , starring Giannopoulos, Palomares, George Kapiniaris, and Mary Coustas, and such films as The Wog Boy and Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos , and parodies such as those of Santo Cilauro (Italian), Eric Bana (Croatian-German), Vince Colosimo(Italian), Nick Giannopoulos (Greek), Frank Lotito (Italian), Mary Coustas (Greek), and SBS Television ‘s offbeat Pizza and later Here Come the Habibs .TV series-have continued this exchange in Australian cultural history -with Some Even A kind of “wogsploitation” of pop culture products being created by a proudly “wog” market. [9] Recent works of the genre have been used by Australians of non-English speaking backgrounds to assert ethnic identity rather than succumb to ethnic stereotypes. [10] dead link ] Upon the release of Wog Boy 2, Giannopoulos discussed the contemporary use of the term “wog” in the Australian context:

I think by defusing the word ‘wog’ we are showing our maturity and our ability to adapt and just laugh things off, you know … When I first came [to Greece] got called ‘wog’ they’d get really angry about it, you know. They were, “Why? Why do they say this about the Greek people?” You know? But then when they see what we’ve done with it, we’re doing a twist to that endearment, they actually really get into that …

Thus, in contemporary Australia, the term “wog” may, in certain contexts, be viewed as a ” nickname ” rather than a pejorative term [11] -akin to the nicknames ascribed within Australian English to other historically significant cultural groupings such as English (” Poms “), the Americans (” Yanks “) and New Zealanders (” Kiwis “).

Use in Canada

In Canadian military slang used by combat arms units, “wog” is a derogatory term for any one of those personnel who are not members of the combat arms. quote needed ]

Use in the United States

Duane Clarridge , a CIA officer, explained that the term “wog factor” was used by the CIA “to acknowledge the motivations that shape-making in North Africa , the Middle East , and the Indian subcontinent are very different from our own . ” [12]


The word “wog” is used by Scientologists to refer to non-Scientologists. Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard defined wog as a “common, everyday garden-variety humanoid … He is not a body … He does not know he’s there, etc. He is not operating as a thetan . ” [13]

See also

  • List of ethnic slurs


  1. Jump up^ ” ‘ Golliwog’ is not connected with ‘wog ‘ ” . The Daily Telegraph . London. February 5, 2009.
  2. Jump up^ “Wog” . Your Dictionary . October 24, 2017 . Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  3. Jump up^ Wilton, David (2008). Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends. Oxford University Press.
  4. Jump up^ “Wog ” ” . WordOrigins.org . Retrieved 18 October 2014 .
  5. Jump up^ “Hansard” . House of Commons 5th series . 467 . collar 2845.
  6. Jump up^ Grant, Linda (2009). The People on the Street: Writer’s View of Israel . London, England: Hatchette Digital. “It started at ounce, [Ophir] said, with the geography teacher, ‘who we used to call Bullet, who had a map where Israel appeared to Palestine and to my face he called Jews and Israelis’ terrorist wogs’. .. As for calling Jews ‘wogs,’ Ophir was to understand that it was nothing derogatory in the term, it simply meant Western Oriental Gentleman. “
  7. Jump up^ eg, “bastard” and “cunt”
  8. Jump up^ “Meanings and origins of Australian words and idioms” . Australian National University . Retrieved 22 March 2015 .
  9. Jump up^ Dale, David (17 May 2003). “Wogsploitation makes its mark in mainstream” . The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 30 July 2017 .
  10. Jump up^http://archimedes.ballarat.edu.au:8080/vital/access/manager/Repository/vital:828;jsessionid=1F4182ECBFF260960D2D5796D1E1BE08
  11. Jump up^ Clark, Andrew (12 October 2005). “A bad word made good” . The Guardian . London . Retrieved 30 July 2017 .
  12. Jump up^ Clarridge, Duane (August 13, 2002). A Spy For All Seasons: My Life in the CIA . Scibner. p. 105. ISBN  978-0743245364 .
  13. Jump up^ Saint Hill Briefing Course-82 6611C29

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